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to test for six strains of E. coli leaves gaps in nation's food safety
By Lynne Terry, The Oregonian
May 03, 2010, 9:55AM
Two years ago, Bill Marler was contacted by the family of a 13-year-old
girl killed by E. coli.
They wanted to sue, and the Seattle lawyer, an expert on food poisoning
cases, wanted to help. But the strain that sickened the Ohio teen falls
outside federal regulations, with neither government officials nor food
manufacturers testing for it. Frustrated by the dearth of data, Marler
hired a private lab to conduct a large-scale, nationwide study of ground
beef, a key culprit in E. coli cases. During the past year and a half,
that lab has tested 4,600 samples from a variety of manufacturers.
IEH Laboratories, north of Seattle, found that about 1 percent were
tainted by six harmful E. coli strains -- including the one that killed
the teen -- that are not regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Only 5 percent of labs in the U.S. routinely test for them, said Dr.
Patricia Griffin, head of food-related epidemiology at the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, leaving a gap in the food safety network.
But a push is afoot to change that. The CDC has called for stepped-up
testing, and on Thursday, Wal-Mart announced a beef safety program aimed
at curbing these strains and other pathogens.
That decision comes amid two nationwide outbreaks.
Public health officials in Ohio, Michigan and New York are looking into
an outbreak of E. coli O145 that has sickened perhaps dozens of people.
In Colorado, 10 inmates were sickened by E. coli O111, the same strain
that killed the 13-year-old girl.
Health officials in Ohio and Michigan are testing food samples, but
so far no one knows what the culprit was.
"It is a shame that in 2010, after years and years of outbreaks,
there are still lethal strains of E. coli that some parts of our government
do not regulate in the food supply," Marler said.
In November, Marler filed a petition asking the USDA to declare the
six strains harmful adulterants.
Last week, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., chimed in, asking Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack to do the same thing.
"The laws that are meant to keep us safe from hazardous foods are
in critical need of updating," she said in a news release. "We
need immediate action to keep our families safe."
The agency has named only E. coli O157:H7 a hazardous adulterant, requiring
testing and recalls.
"It's by far the most common cause of illness and outbreaks,"
E. coli O157:H7 causes 73,000 illnesses and 50 deaths every year in
the United States. The six other strains -- O26, O45, O111, O121, O145,
O103 -- are considered less pervasive, sickening an estimated 37,000
people a year and killing nearly 30. But they could be causing more
illnesses that labs don't detect because they're not testing for them.
The USDA is looking at regulating the additional strains. "It was
granted an expedited review," said Brian Mabry, spokesman for USDA's
Food Safety and Inspection Service.
As part of President Barack Obama's emphasis on food safety, Vilsack
has ordered a complete review of the USDA's food safety regulations,
said Caleb Weaver, the agency's chief spokesman.
"We will not rest until we have eliminated food-borne hospitalizations
and deaths," Weaver said. There are hundreds of strains of E. coli
that live in the intestines of healthy cattle and other animals. Most
do not hurt humans. What makes O157 -- and the six strains singled out
by the CDC -- a problem is that they produce Shiga toxin, which can
cause kidney failure.
"We now know a lot about E. coli O157," said William Keene,
senior epidemiologist at the state Public Health Division.
Its first big national appearance was in Oregon and then Michigan in
1982 when at least 47 people were sickened by tainted McDonalds' hamburgers.
Then in 1993, 732 people in California, Washington, Idaho and Nevada
got sick and four children died after eating undercooked Jack-in-the-Box
hamburgers contaminated with O157:H7.
That prompted the USDA to declare the strain a hazardous adulterant.
In his campaign to push for more testing, Marler said Wal-Mart's beef
safety plan, which goes into effect starting June 2011, is a step in
the right direction.
"I commend them for doing that," Marler said. "I hope
that other retailers will follow suit."
Slow to Name E. coli Strain source
by Dan Flynn | May 03, 2010
State and federal officials investigating a multistate non-O157 E. coli
outbreak went into the weekend without naming either the exact strain
or food source involved.
On background, food safety experts say the likely strain involved is
E. coli O145 and the investigation into the food source is said to be
focused on a specific distribution company. The federal Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta has yet to issue a report
on the ongoing investigation.|
The outbreak appears to have claimed victims in three states, New York,
Ohio, and Michigan. Public health officials in those states say laboratory
work has confirmed 15 cases with another 32 suspected.
Ohio's E. coli cases are centered in Columbus. Washtenaw County, which
includes Ann Arbor, is getting most of the Michigan cases. Daemen College
in Buffalo, NY is the third E. coli hotspot.
Reports on food testing by the states is not shedding much light on
the outbreak, except to rule things out. None of the food samples tested
by Michigan were contaminated with E. coli. Officials were not surprised
because the samples were collected after people developed symptoms of
Ohio declined to say what food samples were being tested and said it
would not do so unless something is connected to the outbreak. Either
way, results were not available.
Non-O157 strains of E. coli are not defined as adulterants by the federal
government even though they can cause sickness and death.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service
(FSIS) has been petitioned by victims of non-O157 outbreaks to declare
those strains as adulterants if found in meat and poultry, but has not
yet taken any action.
The non-O157 E. coli victims are represented in the petition by Marler
Clark, the food safety law firm based in Seattle. Retail giant Walmart
this week announced it would begin requiring its meat suppliers to test
for non-O157 strains of E. coli just as it already does for O157:H7
E. coli, and will reject lots that test positive.
CDC to become involved in E. coli outbreak in Ohio,
Michigan, and New York
Posted on May 1, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
Misti Crane of the Columbus Dispatch, who keeps us all up-to-speed on
the E. coli O145 outbreak in Ohio, Michigan, and New York, reported
early this morning that the CDC is headed to Columbus. Their purpose:
to help identify the food item that has caused at least 47 people to
become infected by E. coli O145 by conducting what is known as a case-control
study--i.e. comparing the foods that suspected victims ate to the foods
that people who did not get sick ate.
A four-member team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
in Atlanta is expected to arrive Sunday to begin a study that might
help solve the mystery of what made the people sick, Ohio Department
of Health spokeswoman Jen House said.
"There are similar investigations going on in other states,"
City, state and federal experts will conduct the study, in which they
will compare people who were sickened with others who ate at the same
places and did not get sick, said Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa
That work could help pinpoint what made people sick, even if laboratory
tests of food samples don't reveal anything.
Even when there are positive food samples - as was the case in 2008
with an outbreak involving ground beef - this type of study can be helpful,
said Dr. Mysheika LeMaile-Williams, the city's medical director.
"It makes for strong evidence to say, 'This is the vehicle that
is getting people sick.'"
Studies could be completed within days, if all goes well, Long said.
Marler, Food Safety Lawyer - "It is well past time for the USDA
to declare that all shiga-toxin producing strains of E. coli are adulterants
and ban them from our food supply."
Posted on April 29, 2010 by Bill Marler
¡°It is a shame that, in 2010, after years and years of outbreaks, there
are still lethal strains of E. coli that some parts of our government
do not regulate in the food supply. E. coli O157:H7 has been considered
an adulterant in food since 1994 by USDA/FSIS, but non?O157 strains,
which can be just as devastating, are not,¡± says food safety lawyer,
As a result, non-O157 strains of E. coli are not regulated or even regularly
tested for in our meat supply. Currently, there are two separate outbreaks
emerging involving the non-O157 strains E. coli O1111 and E. coli O145.
More than 50 people in these two outbreaks have fallen ill since April
7th although neither has yet been linked to a specific food product.
Like their notorious counterpart E. coli O157:H7, E. coli serogroups
O26, O111, O145, and others have truly become a major public health
problem. Annually in the United States they account for 37,000 illnesses
and 30 deaths (Mead et al., 1999; Tozzi et al., 2003; Sonntag et al.,
2004). Strains of E. coli O145 isolated from patients with sporadic
illness ranked among the top six non-O157 serogroups submitted to the
CDC by 43 state public health laboratories between 1983 and 2002 (Brooks
et al., 2005). In a recent study that my law firm commissioned to discover
the prevalence of non-O157 E. coli in retail hamburger samples, we found
that approximately 1.9% of the 1216 ground beef samples tested were
positive. And, this was ground beef sitting on store shelves, ready
to be purchased and consumed. Serotypes included O26 (n=6), O103 (n=7),
O113 (n=1), O121 (n=6) and O145 (n=3) (Samadpour, Beskhlebnaya and Marler
(2009). This study is ongoing and final report on the 5,000 samples
will be published this summer.
In October of 2009, Marler Clark filed a Petition with the USDA/FSIS
for an Interpretive Rule Declaring all enterohemorrhagic Shiga Toxin-producing
serotypes of Escherichia coli (E. coli), Including Non-O157 Serotypes,
to be Adulterants Within the Meaning of 21 U.S.C. ¡× 601(m)(1). FSIS
has responded, but has only said that they are considering the petition.
In addition to our Petition, recently the consumer advocacy group Safe
Tables Our Priority (STOP) published a Press Release urging FSIS to
declare "disease-causing E. coli's other than O157:H7 as adulterants
in beef and begin testing for them." A few days ago, New York Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand wrote to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging him ¡°to
respond formally to two petitions to the USDA¡¯s Food Safety Inspection
Services: 1) Petition for an Interpretive Rule Declaring all enterohemorrhagic
Shiga Toxin-producing Serotypes of Escherichia coli (E. coli), including
Non-O157 Serotypes, to be Adulterants Within the Meaning of 21 U.S.C.
¡× 601(m)(1) - Petition #09-03; and, 2) S.T.O.P.-Safe Tables Our Priority¡¯s
Call to Action and Public Petition.¡±
¡°It is well past time for the USDA to declare that all shiga-toxin producing
strains of E. coli are adulterants and ban them from our food supply,
¡° added Marler
William Marler and Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims
of E. coli and other foodborne illness outbreaks since 1993. Mr. Marler
has recovered in excess of $500 million on behalf of victims of E. coli
outbreaks beginning with the Jack-in-the-Box outbreak of 1993. Mr. Marler
also manages the not for profit Outbreak Inc., where he speaks frequently
of food safety issues.
Gulf Spill Area To Fishing
by Dan Flynn | May 03, 2010
FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO --Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was first to start
closing down the Gulf seafood industry when he put select fishing areas
and oyster harvesting beds off limits to both recreational and commercial
takings last Friday in response to the BP oil spill.
On Sunday, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke followed the Governor with
an announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) was restricting fishing in all Gulf of Mexico waters surrounding
the growing oil slick.
Seafood safety concerns brought the closure of fishing in Louisiana's
Zone 1, excluding the coastal boundaries of Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain,
and Lake Maurapas. It also brought the closures of shellfish area 2
through 7 east of the Mississippi.
On Sunday--against a background of dark skies, strong winds, and high
waves---the federal government stepped in to immediately make the entire
Gulf from Louisiana state waters near New Orleans to Pensacola Bay to
close down fishing for at least the next ten days.
Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator, in a statement said the agency was
attempting to balance "economic and health concerns" and limited
the closure area to Gulf waters affected by the oil.
"The precautionary closure of the federal waters off the coast
of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and part of Florida is a necessary
action to insure the citizens of the United States and abroad that our
seafood will maintain the highest level of quality we expect from the
Gulf of Mexico, said Harlon Pearce. "As chairman of the Louisiana
Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, I applaud Dr. Lubchenco's decision
to insure everyone that all seafood in the Gulf is of the highest quality
and is safe to eat."
"We Support NOAA's precautionary closure of the affected area so
that the American consumer has confidence that the seafood they eat
is safe," added Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana
Seafood Board. "It is also very important to underscore the fact
that this closure is only the affected area of the Gulf of Mexico, not
the entire Gulf. The state waters of Louisiana West of the Mississippi
River are still open and the seafood coming from that area is safe.
That portion of waters represents about 77% of Louisiana seafood production
of a 2.4 billion dollar economic impact to the state."
"We stand with America's fishermen, their families and businesses
in impacted coastal communities during this very challenging time,"
Lubchenco said there was no health risk from seafood currently in the
State and federal officials said the closures were to make sure oil-tainted
fish; shrimp and crab are not caught and consumed.
Long lists of fish caught in the Gulf are now off-limits due to the
federal restrictions. Included are: Amberjacks, Blue Runner, Bluefish,
Cobia, Crevalle Jack, Croaker, Dolphinfish, Black Drum, Red Drum, Flounders,
Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, Scamp Grouper, Kingfishes, Ladyfish, King
Macherel, Spanish Mackerel, Pigfish, Pinfish, Florida Pompano, Red Porgy,
Sailfish, Sand and Silver Seatrouts, Spotted Seatrout, Shark, Sheepshead,
Silver Perch, Gray Snapper, Lane Snapper, Red Snapper, Vermillion Snapper,
Atlantic Spadefish, Spot, Tarpon, Tomtate, Gray Triggerfish, Tripletail,
Black and Yellowfin Tuna, Little Tunny, and Wahoo.
While all those fish may be out there, most of the Gulf's fishing boats
were Sunday night waiting for the weather to clear so they can continue
fighting the oil slick before more it moves toward the beaches. The
NOAA oil trajectory map is available on the agency's Website.
Why Walmart has it right
Safety Zone By: James Marsden
I should start by saying that I do not work for Walmart as a consultant,
advisor or in any other way. It is not my place to defend the company
or its policies. However, I believe that last week Walmart took a courageous
position to improve food safety for its customers ? one that will eventually
improve food safety for all consumers.
What they are requiring
The action taken by Walmart was to require that its beef suppliers meet
performance standards designed to reduce the risk of pathogen contamination.
Specifically, Walmart will require its beef slaughter suppliers to implement
an approved intervention or a combination of interventions between post-hide
removal and final trim production that will consistently produce, at
a minimum, an initial cumulative 3-log reduction of enteric pathogens
by June 2011. Thereafter, they are requesting a further reduction goal
to achieve a total cumulative 5-log reduction between post-hide removal
and final trim production by June 2012. All intervention steps must
be scientifically validated. In addition, interventions must not require
a label declaration or have a negative effect on product quality and
shelf life and must be accepted by consumers.
For ground beef suppliers that are not vertically integrated and do
not have slaughter house control, Walmart will require an approved intervention
or a combination of interventions that will consistently produce, at
a minimum, a 2-log reduction of enteric pathogens on raw trim used for
grinding. Again, the intervention process or intervention steps must
be scientifically validated. Processing suppliers must be in compliance
with this new process control standard by June 2011.
Why I agree
The move was supported by at least one major meatpacker - Tyson Fresh
Meat Co., as well as consumer groups and academicians, including myself.
News reports about the Beef Safety initiative, including those posted
on Meatingplace elicited comments that expressed skepticism and doubt
about Walmart's motives and the need for new requirements. Here are
my thoughts on the subject:
1. The performance standards are designed to assure that all beef slaughter
plants and processing plants utilize effective, validated interventions.
Most of Walmart's suppliers and most plants in the U.S. already have
these interventions in place. I agree with Jim Dickson at Iowa State
University who believes that the initiative is more about proving efficacy
than it is about implementing new interventions. (See: Meatingplace
story on this.)
2. Before making the decision to implement the new performance standards,
Walmart determined that suppliers that already have the required interventions
in place are price competitive.
3. Unfortunately, there are still beef slaughter plants and processors
that either have not implemented effective interventions, or do not
have supporting documentation to show that they are effective. Walmart
is allowing more than a year for these companies to implement effective,
4. In the manufacture of ground beef, product from multiple processors
is often co-mingled. As a result, there may be an increased risk of
contamination when beef from plants with inadequate interventions is
5. Retailers like Walmart have no way of knowing if the beef they purchase
for their customers was processed using effective interventions or not.
When foodborne illness cases and recalls occur, they are still held
accountable. In order to reduce the risk of these occurrences, retailers
have the right to insist that their suppliers use the most effective
interventions available and scientifically document their effectiveness
in controlling pathogens like E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella.
6. It is worth noting that Walmart's requirement for scientific validation
of interventions is consistent with the in-plant validation requirements
that were recently proposed by USDA-FSIS.
The bottom line is that it is time for all beef slaughter and processing
plants to implement food safety systems for controlling E. coli O157:H7
Most have already done so and as a result, beef products are safer now
than at any time in history. If effective systems were universally applied,
the incidence of pathogen contamination and foodborne disease cases
and outbreaks associated with beef products could be further reduced.
These are the real objectives of the Walmart Beef Safety initiative.
Walmart deserves a lot of credit for taking a position that is long
NOAA to Sniff
Out Oil-Tainted Seafood
by Helena Bottemiller | May 05, 2010
NEW ORLEANS--Federal officials plan to keep petroleum-tainted fish off
of our plates by using two proven methods: advanced chemical testing
and their sense of smell.
"The sensory tests tend to be more sensitive than the chemical,"
Steven Wilson, chief quality officer for the seafood inspection program
at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told
Food Safety News in an interview yesterday.
"The nose is very sensitive," says Wilson, who explains that
normally a combination of chemical and sensory testing--which includes
tasting the samples--is used to determine whether seafood is fit for
For the chemical analysis, NOAA will send samples of seafood to expert
labs in Seattle, Washington--labs which have experience testing for
petroleum in seafood.
Samples will also be sent to NOAA's state-of-the-art sensory testing
lab at Gloucestor, Massachusetts, which Wilson notes gives experts ideal
conditions for testing. "It has positive air flow, it's designed
specifically for us to be able to perform sensory analysis."
"There's no point in being on the dock," said Wilson. "It's
not that kind of sensory. You need to check the shell of the crab, you
need to check the meat, you need to check various locations that might
With the oil spill nowhere near contained, and 6,800 square miles of
the Gulf of Mexico closed to any kind of fishing, it remains unclear
when NOAA's seafood inspection program will begin testing fish for contamination.
Before the agency begins its program, two things have to happen. First,
the spill has to be contained, and second, the ocean water "where
the seafood is living and growing and breathing" has to clear a
"There's no point in testing product that's swimming around in
oil," he said.
More Salmonella Cases Tied to Oregon Restaurant
Date Published: Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
Oregon¡¯s Douglas County Health officials announced there are 17 confirmed
cases of Salmonella poisoning linked to the Los Dos Amigos restaurant,
located in Roseburg, said KPIC. The illnesses appear to have occurred
from April 9-17, added KPIC.Salmonella, the most prevalent food borne
pathogen in this country, is an organism that can cause serious and
sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people,
and others with weakened immune systems. Infection with Salmonella can
result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more
severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms),
endocarditis, and arthritis.Dawnelle Marshall of the Public Health Division
of the Douglas County Health Department said that the source of the
outbreak remains unknown and that interviews continue with patrons of
the restaurant who visited the establishment during the outbreak period
in order to determine the outbreak¡¯s timeline and origin, wrote KPIC.¡°We¡¯ve
not been able to pinpoint the source, whether that is a food item, whether
there is cross-contamination. We have not been able to do that, but
we do have sampling that is pending, and those results should be in
later this week,¡± said Marshall. Los Dos Amigos is cooperating in the
investigation, added Marshall.¡°They¡¯re taking suggestions, they¡¯re sharing
information about how they process food, and what they do with foods.
So until we know what that source is, it¡¯s hard to evaluate what that
potential cause can be,¡± said Marshall, quoted KPIC.
Marshall also said that some people have fallen very ill with dehydration
that required intravenous fluids, reported KPIC.
Salmonella poisoning can also lead to Reiter¡¯s Syndrome, a difficult-to-treat
reactive arthritis characterized by severe joint pain, irritation of
the eyes, and painful urination. Some Salmonella bacteria are antibiotic
resistant, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth
of feed animals.
We recently wrote that a report from the Produce Safety Project found
that food borne illnesses are costing the United States $152 billion
annually with one-quarter?$39 billion?the result of food borne illnesses
associated with fresh, canned, and processed produce. According to the
federal government, 76 million people each year come down with some
form of food poisoning; hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and about
linked to salami and pepper: CDC update
Posted on May 5, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
Statistics about thesalmonella montevideo and senftenberg outbreak linked
to salami and pepper were recently updated. According to the CDC, 272
people were sickened by Salmonella montevideo from since July 2009 after
consuming salami that was manufactured using salmonella-contaminated
red and black pepper. The salami was manufactured and sold by a Rhode
Island company called Daniele Inc. The pepper (both black and red),
which has long been known to have been the original source of contamination,
was imported and sold by two companies: Wholesome Spice Company and
Mincing Oversease Spice Company.
Originally, Rhode Island health officials discovered that it was the
pepper, rather than the meat itself, that was originally contaminated.
The CDC states:
Testing by the Rhode Island Department of Public Health found the outbreak
strain of Salmonella Montevideo in samples of black and red pepper intended
for use in the production of Italian-style meats at Daniele International
Inc. Since then, several recalls have been issued.
Interestingly, Salmonella senftenberg illnesses that occurred as a result
of consuming the contaminated product are not counted in the CDC's official
case count. Why I do not know. Packages from consumer households tested
positive for both Salmonella Montevideo and Senftenberg, which seems
to be the smoking gun. Possibly the DNA fingerprint of the senftenberg
strains are different, making it more difficult to include them as part
of the outbreak.
Another concern is that the contaminated pepper is still out there.
The CDC believes that it might be, and may pose an ongoing health risk
to consumers. The most recent confirmed illness in the outbreak occurred
on April 14, 2010, long after the peak of illness in the outbreak, which
was November 2009. With regard to the ongoing threat to public health,
the CDC states:
The numbers of new cases have declined substantially since the peak
in November 2009, but some of the recalled products have long shelf-lives
and could cause illness if consumed. Consumers should avoid eating recalled
The outbreak has spawned multiple lawsuits.
Slicers and belts prove high risk for Listeria contamination,
By Jane Byrne , 04-May-2010
Bread feeding machines, slicers, conveyor belts and water hoses are
the areas most at risk for contamination by L. monocytogenes and continuous
monitoring of plant equipment and environment can provide an early warning
system for processors, finds a new study on a sandwich plant.
The researchers, in a study published in Food Control said that they
investigated the occurrence and genetic diversity of L. monocytogenes
in a Swiss sandwich-producing plant over a 12-month period, with the
goal of evaluating the potential persistence of L. monocytogenes there
in order to identify possible contamination sources.
L. monocytogenes as a food-borne pathogen has significant public health
and economic impacts with manufacturers of ready-to-eat foods required,
under EU regulation, to examine the processing environment for microbe
as part of their hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) approach
and sampling schemes.
The research team, from the Institute of Food Safety and Hygiene in
Zurich, said they first evaluated the basic situation and the potential
persistence of L. monocytogenes strains in the plant, and then evaluated
the effect of revised cleaning and disinfection procedures with a focus
on identified problem areas.
Sampling, they said, was performed twice a week and comprised about
80 samples per visit, reported the team.
The team said they took 1,192 samples from the equipment of the sandwich
processing lines such as slicers, knives, or conveyor belts, as well
as 307 samples from the environment including drains, walls, or floors.
Samples totalling 217 were taken, they added, from ready to-eat ingredients
pre-handled in the plant such as salmon, ham, or salami sliced.
Additionally, 529 samples from the equipment and environment were obtained
after cleaning and disinfection, said the researchers.
L. monocytogenes were detected by culture after enrichment in 70 (3.5
per cent) of 2,028 environmental swabs and 16 (7.4 per cent) of 217
samples from ingredients and sandwiches.
Of the 86 L. monocytogenes strains, 93 per cent belonged to serotype
1/2a and genetic lineage II. Rep PCR and PFGE analysis yielded each
six profiles, found the authors.
Sixty-seven (77.9 per cent) strains belonged to only one genotype, which
was repeatedly found on/in slicers, conveyor belts, tables, a bread-feeding
machine, spattles, air blow-guns, salmon, and egg sandwiches, said the
They said that strains of this genotype persisted for more than nine
months in the processing environment, in particular on slicers and conveyor
The authors noted that due to their construction, slicers or conveyor
belts are often difficult to clean and maintain adequately and therefore
constitute probable contamination sources for food products.
Moreover, they claim air blow-guns and water hoses testing repeatedly
positive for strains of certain genotypes might indirectly contribute
to the contamination of food products by the hands of employees.
Based on the data from the first sampling phase, they said, cleaning
and disinfection procedures of the plant were revised with a main focus
on identified problem areas, including enhanced supervision by the quality
The second sampling phase evaluated the effect of the revised cleaning
and disinfection schemes, and also included the examination of additional
difficult to clean areas of the processing environment, added the authors.
They said that after revision of the cleaning and disinfection procedures,
L. monocytogenes were no longer found on slicers, conveyor belts, or
in products but were still detected sporadically in environmental samples
such as water hoses. The intensified examination, said the team, also
identified the inside of a bread-feeding machine as a further problem
The four L. monocytogenes strains from the bread-feeding machine all
belonged to the predominant genotype (Rep PCR profile a, PFGE profile
A) and were obtained during the first two visits but after revision
of the cleaning and disinfection scheme of this machine, Listeria were
no longer found, reported the researchers.
Source: Food Control
Published online ahead of print
Title: Phenotypic and molecular typing of Listeria monocytogenes isolated
from the processing environment and products of a sandwich-producing
Authors: S. Blatter, N. Giezendanner, R. Stephan, C. Zweifel
Antimicrobial resistance a growing threat: study
MeatPoultry.com, May 6, 2010
by Bryan Salvage
DEERFIELD, ILL. Antimicrobial resistance has emerged as a global health
problem and is a major impediment in managing childhood infectious diseases,
according to a new study published in the May issue of the American
Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Direct and indirect exposure
of young children to antibiotics through medical and agricultural usage
can increase their risk for carriage of resistant E. coli.
E. coli is estimated to cause disease in hundreds of thousands of people
around the world each year, including approximately 70,000 Americans.
E. coli can be transmitted from animals and humans through several sources,
the most common being contaminated food and water. While most E. coli
are harmless and are carried as a normal part of the human intestinal
flora, such commensal bacteria might serve as an important reservoir
of resistance that can be transmitted to disease-causing E. coli and
other bacterial species.
Conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the
study revealed several factors affecting antibiotic-resistant E. coli
carriage in young children in Peru. By analyzing E. coli samples from
more than 500 children, the researchers were able to identify individual,
household and community factors influencing carriage of the resistant
bacteria. The study was conducted in 16 purposively selected zones in
four regions in Peru, including peri-urban slums in Lima and towns and
villages in Cajamarca in the Sierra Mountains, Iquitos in the Amazon
rain forest and Chincha on the coast.
¡°This study is unique in having evaluated a number of risk factors at
multiple levels in very young children for carrying antibiotic-resistant
E. coli bacteria,¡± said Dr. Henry D. Kalter, lead study investigator,
associate, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health. ¡°By examining all these factors, we were able
to reach a more comprehensive understanding of how resistant E. coli
is transmitted in the developing world. In analyzing the study results,
we learned that children¡¯s use of antibiotics, as well as their family
members¡¯ use, increased their risk for carrying resistant E. coli, and
that residing in an area where a greater proportion of households served
home-raised chickens protected against resistance.
¡°This protective effect can be understood in light of the fact that
the home-raised chickens carried significantly lower levels of resistant
E. coli than did the market chickens, which in Peru are intensively
raised with antibiotics,¡± he added. ¡°The strength of this community
level variable suggests that this is where the transmission of resistance
resulting from agricultural antibiotics use was taking place.¡±
In poor communities in developing countries such as Peru, with inadequate
protection of excreta and water, contamination of the environment with
antibiotic-resistant bacteria appeared to play at least as great a role
in children¡¯s carriage of resistant E. coli as did the children¡¯s own
¡°This study is important in a number of respects" said Edward T.
Ryan, M.D., president, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
(A.S.T.M.H.). "It improves our understanding of the growing global
public health threat of antibiotic resistant organisms and underscores
the critical role that antibiotic use in animals plays in contributing
to this threat. The vast majority of the tons and tons of antibiotics
ingested each year on this planet are administered to livestock and
animals. This study clearly shows that such use comes with a very real
cost to human health.¡±
¡°There¡¯s no doubt that antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat
to human health,¡± Dr. Christine Hoang, an assistant director in the
Scientific Activities division of the American Veterinary Medical Association,
told MEATPOULTRY.com. ¡°In fact, the study indicates that the children¡¯s
and the household members¡¯ recent antibiotic use were the two main risk
factors for children three years old and younger carrying antimicrobial
resistant E. coli.
¡°Although this study is relatively unique in that it examined the influence
of individual, household and community-scale risk factors and potential
associations, further study is needed prior to drawing any definitive
conclusions,¡± she concluded.
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